There’s no denying that the New York Knicks are in shambles right now. The front office is in the midst of a revamp, the roster’s a mess, and pretty much every single Knicks fan wants the team owner out as soon as humanly possible. Things have just gone from bad to worse, and at this point, there seems to be a very faint shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Nevertheless, the Knicks are still one of the most storied franchises in the NBA. While it may seem like an eternity ago, New York has actually had several periods in its history when it was considered one of the best teams in the entire league.
In the past, this franchise has had some great players on the roster, and what we’re going to have a look at now are the top shooting guards in Knicks history.
3. Dick Barnett
Dick Barnett is one of only a few players who were a part of the Knicks’ titles in 1970 and 1973 — the only two championships in franchise history. The 6-foot-4 guard was already on the tail end of his career at that point, but still, he proved to be a crucial piece in at least one of these title runs.
Barnett arrived in New York in 1965 following a trade deal with the Los Angeles Lakers. He proved to be an X-factor for the team, with the Knicks making eight straight playoff appearances soon after he joined the squad. This included three trips to the NBA Finals in the span of four years, which resulted in the two aforementioned championships.
In his prime, Barnett was an outstanding offensive force for New York, averaging 23.1 points (on 46.9 percent shooting), 4.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in his first year with the team. The former fourth overall pick was also selected to the All-Star squad once during his time in New York, which is further proof of Barnett’s elite level of play.
What not many know is that outside the basketball court, Barnett was quite the renaissance man. Aside from being a poet and an author, the Gary, Indiana native is also the owner of a PhD in education. How many other NBA stars — past and present — have this on their resume?
Indeed, Dick Barnett is truly one of a kind.
2. Allan Houston
After completing his rookie deal with the Detroit Pistons, the team that selected him 11th overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, Allan Houston signed a lucrative deal with the Knicks in 1996 to team up with the likes of Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, and John Starks.
Together, this group made the Knicks into the powerhouse team that they were in the late ’90s. Their most memorable run was during the 1998-99 campaign, when this team went all the way to the NBA Finals, only to lose to the San Antonio Spurs.
With Ewing approaching the end of his illustrious career, Houston stepped up as New York’s new star. The 6-foot-6 2-guard was a dead-eye shooter from distance, and he’s actually second in 3-pointers made in franchise history, second only to John Starks.
In nine seasons with New York, Houston made two All-Star appearances. He finished his Knicks career with averages of 18.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 0.7 steals while also knocking down 1.5 triples per contest on a 39.9 percent clip. The former Tennessee standout retired in 2005 at 33, and while he did not win a title, he is still remembered as one of the greatest 2-guards in Knicks history.
1. Earl Monroe
There are few greater players who have ever dawned the Knicks jersey than the great Earl Monroe. More fondly known as “The Pearl,” he joined the Knicks in 1971 via trade from the Baltimore Bullets. Playing alongside another great in Walt Frazier, these two combined for what many consider to be one of the best backcourt duos in the history of the NBA.
Monroe was part of the New York team that won the title in 1973. This was the team’s second title in four years, so this just goes to show just how good that particular Knicks side was. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard’s dazzling style of play wowed the fans, and to this day, Monroe’s brilliance is remembered fondly in the hearts and minds of the New York faithful.
Monroe finished his career as a four-time All-Star (twice with the Knicks) and one-time All-NBA member. For his vast contributions to the sport, he was enshrined to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. His retired jersey currently hangs proudly on the rafters of Madison Square Garden.